Council responds to FiT review

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Cornwall Council has written to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to officially express its concern over Government proposals to make changes to a scheme which encourages the development of renewable energy.

In an open statement to the Government department, Julian German, Cornwall Council cabinet member for the environment, warns of the “hugely negative effect” that the DECC proposals to pull funding could have on local authorities.

The Feed in Tariff (FiT) scheme was introduced last year to encourage development of renewable energy by financially rewarding businesses, communities and individuals for the production of energy from renewable sources. In August the Government announced that local authorities could benefit from the FiT by generating electricity from renewable technologies such as solar powered photo-voltaics (PV) and sell it to the grid in order to support local service activities.

However, in March the Government announced proposals to limit the FiT for renewable energy schemes of over 50Kw – thereby making large scale schemes no longer financially viable.

The Council has followed the Government’s own legislative recommendations and the UK’s first council-owned solar PV park site is planned for delivery on land near Newquay Cornwall Airport. Cornwall Council has already invested approximately £250k in developing plans for a solar park. The proposal has planning permission and contractors have been appointed. The site is due to be built and begin generating electricity between October–December 2011.

Cllr German writes: “With the Comprehensive Spending Review having such a huge impact on local authorities, Cornwall Council has subsequently seen this as a method of providing support for future services and therefore creating direct benefits to Cornwall’s communities.”

The Cornwall Council response highlights the positive effect that the development of solar power and other kinds of renewable energy could have on the Cornish economy and the knock-on benefits to local residents.

“Cornwall is the focus of activity for a large number of solar PV companies. Working with these companies to help develop our low-carbon economy we have up to £1 billion worth of expected technology investment. We are linking this work to supply-chain activities for local businesses and undertaking positive relationships with developers leading to effective community gain.”